Re: More questions on Mark

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 25 1995 - 16:42:22 EDT

At 11:33 PM 9/24/95, Kenneth Litwak wrote:
> Can someone tell me the difference in meaning or significance of the
>use of the periphrastic participle, such as the periphrastic pluperfect
>in Mark 6:52, compares to a simpler form, like just a pluperfect passive
>verb? Also, in this episode of walking on the water, Jesus announces
>to the disciples "egw eimi". I don't really expect at this point Jesus
>meant to be telling his discplies he was Yahweh, and even if he had,
>from their reaction, they clearly would not have accepteD THAT.
>I'm wondering therefore if there are other examples outside the NT of
>the use of ego eimi without any modifiers, and what it probably means
>in those passages. Thanks.

There really is no difference in meaning between the form you cite, HN
PEPWRWMENH and a "regular" pluperfect equivalent, EPEPWRHTO. Beginning very
early, probably because of the awkwardness of linking the endings -NTAI,
-NTO to consonant stem verbs in the middle/passive (although the N is
vocalized in Homeric 3 pl. endings -ATAI, -ATO), the 3rd plural began to be
written in the periphrastic form. It may have spread from there, especially
in view of the fact that both perfect and pluperfect tenses are relatively
little used in comparison with the "big 4"--pres., impf., fut., aor., to
the other persons & nos. It may also be that the form with participle and
verb "to be" more readily expressed the perfective notion of a "state of
completion" than the older real perfect or pluperfect forms might have
("their heart was hardened" as opposed to "their heart HAD BEEN hardened").

I don't have the tools for searching texts of EGW EIMI outside of John
ready to hand, but I think it appears once (and perhaps in more than one
gospel) in Jesus' response to Caiaphas at the Sanhedrin trial. Its sense
would be "I am (x)," e.g., "I am (the Messiah)," whereby the predicate
noun/adjective need not be expressed if it is implicit from what has gone
before. I don't think it would be the equivalent of English (archaic
English?) "It is I" in response to "Who's there" (and "Knock, knock"). In
that case I think one would simply use the pronoun, EGW, perhaps assisted
with one's name.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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